Is overexpansion killing pro sports?

(Most of my views/information will be hockeycentric, because that’s the sport I know best.)

In days gone by, player salaries were low, because players knew that if they made too much noise, there were 50 kids with their amount of talent waiting to take their place.

Flash forward to the present day. The NHL has gone from 6 teams to 30, each with their support organizations (in the American Hockey League, WHL, QMJHL, ECHL, et. al.). Using the NHL as an example, is it any wonder that a kid with a smidgen of talent can ask for the moon? He knows that truly talented players are rare, and there are a lot of places he could go and command a princely sum. Now, to compensate for our lad’s huge salary, owners either raise ticket prices, or skimp on the rest of the team (or both). So, we a) have teams of haves and have-nots (i.e. the Calgary Flames and the New York Rangers, or the Montreal Expos and the New York Yankees), and b) a bunch of spoiled kids that know that no matter how poorly the act, they can find a home (Latrell Sprewell, Darryl Strawberry) because talent is at a premium. Heck, a couple seasons back, Detroit paid Sergei Federov more than the roster of the Nashville Predators for a lousy 22 games!!

Also troubling, is that teams are more interested in ‘providing good product’ (as quoted from the GM of the Mighty Ducks) than championship teams. Heck, if they can put butts in seats on the cheap, the rest of the money is profit, I guess…look no further than my disgraced Boston Bruins for that. Ever notice the disturbing trend of championship teams going in 10 different directions in the next season? Everyone demands more money, and they break up the team.

Look at the salaries nowadays-Wilt Chamberlain said something to the effect that Shaq made more in his rookie season than Wilt did in his career, and Shaq has never been on a championship team. They are paying baseball players 90 million dollars for five years. 90 million dollars!

I guess what makes me the maddest is that many US markets are using public funds to build sporting arenas, but prices for tickets are too high for the Average Joe to attend the games. I can’t imagine trying to take a family of four to football, basketball, or NHL hockey (the Mariners have set aside some $5 seats, out of pity, I guess).

What’s your opinion? Too many teams + not enough talent = $100 tickets? Has it gone too far? Can we save it?


“This is going to take a special blend of psychology and extreme violence.”

INMO too many teams + not enough talent does not equal $100 tickts.

I don’t think there are too many teams. In fact, I don’t think there are enough teams. I agree with baseball writer Bill James, who wrote that in a county with 250 million people (not to mention Canada and Latin America) there were more than enough good players for 60 major league baseball teams. James didn’t say so, but I don’t think he envisioned taking athletes from other major sports.

Not enough talent: see above.

$100 tickets: I think the high player salaries and high ticket costs are a result of union oligopolies and league monopolies and ineffective government. It is ludicrous for tax money to be spent building sport arenas for billionaire team owners and millionaire players. If governments are to build arenas for teams then heavy strings should be attached, like maximum ticket prices and control over luxury box revenue streams.

Gotta side with Spank on this one.

Back when there were only 6 teams in the NHL, the population of US and Canada was what? 200 million? 180 million? Whatever. It was some very respectable number. So if 250 million will yield 60 teams then shouldn’t the 180 million yielded at least 45. But it didn’t.

The fact is, a large proportion of players in the NHL now are from Europe. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Why do you suppose they come from Europe to play here? Could be they like Big Macs. Could be they like american women. Could be they like the insane salaries they could not even dream of earning at thet top of their game in Europe.

I recall, as a kid, watching those games and I still recall the personalities of those players. I can’t say I feel the same about the current sports celebrities. Sure, Gretsky was great. He was a gentleman of the game, but how many skilled players like him are around in any sport today. Very few compared to the Rockers and that basketball freak with the multi-coloured hair and pierced nose (what’s his name?). Today, the sports hero is much more likely to make a name for himself through some publicity stunt or drunken incident that lands him in court rather than on the playing field. What’s worse, even when they do break the law, they are virtually untouchable. In the last superbowl, at least 4 players on the field had a criminal record which included trafficking, B&E, assault and manslaughter. Seems that non of it stuck to them because it was more important that they play and make money for the owners than do time for their crimes.

But I digress…

There is a lot wrong with pro sports today, not the least of which is the insane and unwarranted amount of money being thrown around at players who could barely get through highschool. (I know, some of them are quite bright as well, but they are in the minority).

It irritates me to see 90 million thrown at a guy who swings a stick for a living when Hospitals have to fight tooth and nail for cancer research funds. Perhaps the thing to do is have hospitals organize and support professional sport teams…

There is another reason for the NHL’s expansion that you have not touched on. That is the league lacks a TV contract that is on par with what other sports make. The NHL as a whole gets slightly more than what each NFL team gets.
Due to this the NHL has the highest average ticket prices of the 4 major sports. It has also lead to the aggressive expansion over the last decade.
BTW, there are only 28 teams in the NHL. The number will reach 30 for next season.
As has been pointed out, the expansion in the NHL has been offset by the influx of players from europe, particularly those from former eastern block countries. The current expansion will serve the league in the future as the sport grows at the grassroots level. Hockey has exploded here in Dallas since the Stars came to town.

Gee, I don’t think any of us expected him to say that.

Sorry but I for one am damn happy about expansion…

Then again, I live in Columbus, Ohio.

Let’s Go BlueJackets!!

Exits without contributing anything of significance

The Sleeper has AWAKEN!

Gee, I thought that people from Ohio had trouble saying “go blue”…

Gee, I don’t think any of us expected him to say that.

No one likes the huge sports salaries, especially the team owners. They would love to be able to charge $100 per ticket, because that what the market will bear, apparently, and pay the players 1950’s level salaries, and keep the excess for themselves. My point is that having too many teams with too many players doesn’t necessarily equate to the too high player salaries.

To me, a main cause of the high salaries is the inequitable distribution of revenues amoung the teams. The NFL shares TV revenues, merchansdise income and ticket revenue, but not revenues from sky-boxes and not personal seat license revenues, so each team then soaks the city for a new stadium with sky boxes and seats they can access fees on. If the revenue was equal, the salaries would equalize and come to equalibrium.

Adam Yax,

Good point and not far from the truth!

I for one am not one of the locals who subscribe to the religious FANATICAL devotion to OSU. I do like them, and I do “dislike” Michigan - in the spirit of a great rivalry!


It was an honest objection here to the name, Ohio State fans complaining because it’d be wrong to yell “Go Blue” at a BlueJacket’s game because somehow to these zealots that equates to Michigan! Once again, I’m sad to admit, we see the true small town mentality of some of the people in this city.

They wouldn’t know a big league mentality if it came up and bit them on the ass…

GO BLUE!! (Jacket’s that is…)

The Sleeper has AWAKEN!

Team owners are what’s wrong with pro sports. Their greed will eventually reach critical mass and their entire sports league will crumble around them.

Example: Who here remembers the enormous backlash and stink that went up when the Baltimore Colts decided to move to Indianapolis? Or when the Oakland Raiders decided to move to Los Angeles? Back then, it was nigh-unthinkable for a team to change cities. Team owners apparently had some actual loyalty to their fans, and, as long as they weren’t losing money, the team could stay put.

Now, teams change cities so often I’m surprised they have time to pack in between moves. I can recall years when three teams changed cities at once, and I’m sure that’s just because I don’t remember more. The cities of Cleveland and Baltimore were both absolutely raped when the Browns owner pulled up stakes and moved his team. The owner had the most profitable losing team in the league, yet he decided to move because Baltimore agreed to build him a stadium, hand him an additional wad of cash for agreeing to move, and give him 50% of the profits from non-football events held in the stadium. All at the expense of taxpayers and fans.

The stadium game is a dangerous one, which I fear may destroy pro sports. If you want to read more, there’s a great book out called Field of Schemes that tells the tale better than I can.


Blue Jackets. Mmmmph. You know, that’s the lamest-ass name I’ve ever heard for a team, and up until you mentioned it, I didn’t even THINK of screaming “Go Blue.” It’s lame because it’s not even intellectually honest. See, they told us they called the team the Blue Jackets because of some white guy who was accepted into a Native American tribe way back when. They called him Blue Jacket for obvious reasons.

So what’s the mascot of this lovely team?

You guessed it. A big freakin’ blue bee.

Ridiculous. They could have called the team the Mad Cows, poking fun at Columbus’ reputation for being a “Cowtown.” They could have called the team the Convicts, in honor of the fact that our old state pen was torn down so the arena could be built there. Both of those monikers pretty much come with ready-made uniform designs, too.

But nooooo…they had to call the team the Blue Jackets. Which shortens down, on some of the merchandise, to BJ. Do these people have ANY clue?

I will NEVER root for this team. Go Sabres!


I’m sure there are folks in Minnesota that would swap with you. The ‘Wild’?? Geez, what’s their mascot, a bushel of rice?

Couple that with their Christmas-in-Hell colors, and you have a marketing nightmare.

Then again, I’m from Seattle, and I’d trade all our so-called ‘major’ league teams (Mariners, Seachickens, Sonics) for an NHL team.


Doesn’t the little bug have a Union Jacket on? Ought to be interesting when they play Atlanta, eh?



“This is going to take a special blend of psychology and extreme violence.”

Back to my OP…

Something that came to me during the commute- one of the things that expansion/migration is costing is rivalries.

Leafs/Canadiens (ok, it’s better-they used to be in different conferences and only see each other twice a year-it’s up to five times, but significantly less than the old days), Browns/Bengals, Yankees/Dodgers? With all the chaff teams coming in (and having to find room in the schedule for them), the great rivalries are starting to wane. Who wants to see the Yankees beat up on the Maryland Marmalades when they could be seeing a dogfight between them and a hated rival? I’d much rather see the Wings and Avs square off than either of them play the Thrashers.


“This is going to take a special blend of psychology and extreme violence.”